The moment Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton cracked under the pressure of a simple question may come back to haunt her, according to a CBS News focus group.
And Democrats reacted more negatively than did Republicans in the group.
In a February interview, CBS News’ Scott Pelly asked the former secretary of state if she always told the truth.
Clinton appeared uncomfortable when she answered, “I’ve always tried to. Always. Always.”
When pollster Frank Luntz showed members of the CBS News focus group a clip of that exchange, Democrats — represented by the green line — reacted more strongly than did GOP voters — represented by the red line.
“Her response convinced nobody,”Luntz said. “That was one of the worst responses on the campaign trail I have ever seen, and not just in this election.”
Even Pelly was taken aback by Clinton’s answer, and said, “Some people are going to call that ‘wiggle room’ that you just gave yourself.”
Luntz said the more Clinton tried to wiggle, the deeper the hole she dug for herself.
“You don’t try to tell the truth — either you do or you don’t,” Luntz said. “The more that she said, the lower the line went, not just for Republicans but for Democrats as well.”
Clinton has been fighting her high negativity ratings, based on the public perception that she’s dishonest, throughout her campaign.
“It’s an issue of integrity,” Luntz said. “And that response indicates that she doesn’t have the integrity, which is one of the reasons why her negatives are higher than her positives.”
The pollster also played a clip of Clinton saying she was under sniper fire when she visited Bosnia as first lady. That claim was refuted by video evidence presented by then-CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson.
“There’s a simple rule in politics, which is … don’t exaggerate, and assume that the reporter who’s covering you has been covering you for months or years and was actually there to see it,” Luntz said. “I think that if Hillary Clinton loses, she will lose because of the issue of integrity — the perception that she is dishonest.”
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